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Throughout Catching Fire, second novel in the Hunger Games trilogy, author Suzanne Collins uses flashbacks to provide the reader with background information.
One flashback can be found in the first chapter. After hunting, she goes to Gale's house. As she approaches the house and sees Gale's mother, Hazelle, through the window, Katniss reflects on how much she admires Hazelle and uses a flashback to explain her affection for Hazelle by recounting some of her family's history. According to the flashback, Katniss's father and Hazelle's husband were killed in the same explosion. Hazelle was left alone to fend for herself and three boys, with a new baby expected any day. Katniss further explains that Hazelle began providing for her family by doing laundry. She started working so hard for her family that her "hands got so red and cracked, they bled at the slightest provocation." In addition, Gale, at the age of 14, "the eldest of the kids, became the main supporter of the family." He signed up to receive tesserae for grain and oil, in exchange entering his name "extra times to become a tribute," which is a competitor in the government's fight to the death event called the Hunger Games.
A second example of a flashback can be seen in Chapter 3. While bathing away her worries, she flashes back to when her father was still alive and taught her how to swim. According to her narration, she and her father used to spend "hot summer Sundays in the woods" at the lake. She was so young that she doesn't remember actually learning to swim; she only remembers "diving, turning somersaults, and paddling around." She also remembers her father hunting for waterfowl while she scavenged for eggs and roots. The final memory she recounts in her narration is of the dinner of roast duck her mother would fix when she and her father returned home from the woods. The memory serves to remind the reader of Katniss's happier times and to generate empathy for her desires to obtain happier times again.
Collins frequently uses the device of flashbacks throughout her Hunger Games series to develop characterization, motivation, and plot development.
The beginning of the novel introduces a very significant flashback concerning the relationship between Katniss and Gale. During the visit with President Snow, Katniss recalls the time when she and Gale when hunting and Gale unexpectedly kissed her.
Collin inserts another flashback when Katniss and Peeta watch the tapes to reveal how Haymitch won the Hunger Games.
Periodically, Katniss also recalls flashback excerpts of her conversation with President Snow as a warning to try and halt the spreading rebellion.
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